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Outcry after Judge gives Ronnie Leslie three years suspended jail sentence after jury’s unanimous guilty verdict of GBH

Hendrick Felix “Cricual” Morancie appeared shocked and perplexed after hearing the decision of Justice Colin Williams who handed a three-year suspended jail sentence to Ronnie Leslie who on November 12, 2017 hand inflicted a cutlass wound to his (Morancie’s) leg resulting in it being amputated.

The court heard that the victim’s right leg was severed from his ankle because of the wound inflicted by Ronnie Leslie. The state called five witnesses, including Doctor Dechaussey, who spoke of the severity of the injury.

Ronnie Leslie speaking to his lawyers

Both men who are from the community of St. Joseph were involved in a verbal argument and, in the process threw stones and bottles at each other. Leslie at that time was armed with a cutlass doing gardening and eventually used the cutlass to inflict the cop wound.

A jury consisting of six women and three men after deliberating on the matter rejected his case of provocation and self-defense and returned a unanimous verdict of “guilty” against Ronnie Leslie of St. Joseph for the charge of grievous bodily harm with intent (GBH) against Hedrick Felix Morancie.

The State’s case was prosecuted by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Sherma Dalrymple and State Attorneys Daina Matthew and Marie Louise Pierre Louis.

Leslie’s defense was led by lawyers Wayne Norde and Bernard Pacquette.

Several families of the convicted man gave testimony to the court labeling Leslie as “hard-working, soft and non-violet and were willing to assist him once the court imposed a fine.

Leslie was called to the witness stand and expressed his remorse at the incident and apologized. “I am very sorry (crying)…I want him to accept my apology, I have been employed for ten years and I am willing to compensate him with the help of my family,” he said.

“I want to live in peace and is asking for a reasonable compensation of about 40-50 thousand dollars to pay.” The maximum sentence is 10 years in jail.

DPP Sherma Dalrymple told the court that as a Minister of Justice since the matter had passed the 6-year mark for a civil lawsuit, she was requesting a “non-custodial sentence on Leslie with heavy compensation since the injury to Moranice is for life.”

However, when he was asked to take the witness stand, Morancie rejected the apology, saying “Why now, it’s much too late and no one ever came to talk to him about the incident in the seven years.”

In presenting his medical bills his prosthetic leg cost $5,375, hospital bills $7,000, and other medical expenses $1,183.00. Asked by the court what would be “a reasonable compensation” he replied “$100,000.00.”

“This injury has seriously affected my life, I have bathing and dressing issues, I am off balance, I can no longer work since I was a construction worker before that incident, I have had seven years of pain and suffering and it continues,” he told the court.  

Sentencing

Before handing down his sentence, DPP Sherma Dalrymple that after hearing comments from the victim, and the accused and also based on comments from the court, she is now recommending a “custodial sentence” for Leslie. She stated that the offense was “violent with severe physical harm done with Morancie losing his leg which was a “long-term injury and a weapon being a cutlass was used.”

She also labeled the incident “isolated” with the mitigating factors being he (Leslie) was of good character and showed genuine remorse for his actions.” She then recommended a custodial sentence starting point of 6 years and given everything said reduced by two years. “A custodial sentence of 4 years is appropriate,” she told the court

In handing down his sentence, Justice Williams that Leslie had “no previous convictions” and there were “clear signs of provocation.”  They classified the injury as “serious physical harm caused by a farming or domestic tool a cutlass” Hence he gave a starting jail sentence of 6 years and said there were no “aggravating facts”

He also stated that there were preponderant mitigating facts among them a single cutlass wound, provocation, and his genuine remorse reducing the sentence by 36 months. He was left with 3 years.

Justice Williams also stated that while the court must take into account the “prevalence of GBH matters in Dominica, the matter is 7 years old, Leslie is a first-time offender and poses no threat to the Dominican society.”

He also chided the State for its delay in getting the matter calling it “inexcusable” to the High Court despite Dominica being ravaged by Hurricane Maria and the court not sitting followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lesilie he said is “close to retirement” and will be best served with a 3-year jail sentence suspended for 3 years. He was also placed on a bond of $40,000.00 to keep the peace for three years, must reside in St. Joseph and if he has to change his address must inform the social welfare officer since he was placed under their care and supervision and had to give them his telephone number and must “comply with all there orders and instructions.”

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